Chemotherapy can be a life-saving treatment, but it does unfortunately come with some side-effects. We have a look through what those might be, and how you can help keep your skin in the best possible condition.
6 ways chemotherapy affects skin
Chemo can affect your skin in various different ways, including changes to its colour, texture and general condition. Here are some of the most common changes:
- Dryness: one of the most common side-effects of chemotherapy is that it can make your skin drier and more sensitive. You might find that your skin needs more moisturising throughout the day.
- Photo sensitivity: your skin can be more sensitive to the sun, and will need covering up completely or more powerful sun screens to protect it from burning.
- Changes in colour: your skin can become hyper- or hypo-pigmented during or after chemo, with darker or lighter areas noticeable in various places on the body, including occasionally along lines where the drugs have entered your veins. This usually fades in time.
- Flushing: some chemo drugs are associated with causing the skin to become flushed.
- Radiation recall: If you’ve previously had radiotherapy before chemo, the drugs can cause burns to areas affected by the radiotherapy.
- Rashes: sometimes chemotherapy can triggers allergic reactions that show on the skin as hives or blisters, as well as potentially causing rashes associated with sensitive skin. Rashes can feel itchy and sore.
Is it common for skin to change during chemotherapy?
Skin changes during or after chemo are common and usually nothing to worry about. Do always ask your professional caregivers if you’re concerned about any changes to your skin, or if you need some extra support in coping with it.
Check out our article How To Look After Your Skin Before, During & After Radio- and Chemotherapy for some practical measure you can take to keep your skin as healthy as possible.
We want to make sure that anyone going through chemotherapy can look after their skin and mitigate some of the more challenging effects of chemo on the skin, so we’ve come up with some suggestions for products that can help keep sensitive skin in good condition during treatment.
Recommended products when undergoing chemotherapy
Skin Salvation with hemp and beeswax it’s the perfect emollient for skin that has been affected by chemo burns, and, because it’s oil not water-based, is less likely to sting sensitive skin on application. (From £7.99 for 30ml)
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Bath & Body Oil with hemp, lavender and chamomile is great to add to a relaxing bath or to use as a lavender-scented massage oil. (£12.99 for 200ml)
Bath & Body Oil
with lavender, hemp and olive
Balmonds Rosehip Scar Oil with rosehip, chamomile and palmarosa is suitable for use on the face, nails, or any areas of ‘radiation burn’ or scarring. (£22 for 30ml)
We also offer a fantastic All-Natural Starter Kit which would make a perfect skincare essentials bundle for anyone undergoing chemo or radiotherapy.
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.